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Soccer turns silent

Those on sidelines asked to keep quiet.

Those on sidelines asked to keep quiet.

October 07, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Parents, spectators and even coaches in the 61-team Hagerstown Area Youth Soccer League had a challenging assignment Saturday: Keeping their mouths shut.

As part of the annual Silent Saturday, soccer coaches and spectators were prohibited from giving instructions or shouting encouragement while games were in play.

The goal was for the players to learn to rely on each other rather than on parents and coaches, soccer league commissioner Heidi Tennant said. It was at least the fifth year the league has had the quiet day, she said.

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During breaks in the game, coaches and spectators reminded the players that team members can still give instructions to each other. But on the sidelines, it was mostly silent except for applause, which was permitted.

Occasionally, a parent would forget the rule of the day and another spectator would tell them to "shush."

That was the case with Rodney Johnson, who was about to shout "get the ball!" to his daughter, Shi Johnson, 5, when Shi's aunt, Paula Dagenhart, reminded him of the rules.

"I think it is nice. It is hard, but it is nice," Paula Dagenhart said of the day.

Rodney Johnson said he thinks the idea behind the event is good for older players - who understand the game's rules better - but he is not sure how helpful it is for the players of Shi's age who may need more instructions.

Spectators adjusted to the rules, learning other ways to express themselves.

Instead of shouting, parents and friends used signs, pom-poms and flags, Anna Mummert said.

It is also a challenge for coaches, coach Mitch Mummert said.

If he saw a player heading for the wrong goal, for instance, he couldn't yell and warn him.

Instead, he said, "You just grit your teeth."

Mummert's son, Jared, 8, who plays on one of the teams, said he likes Silent Saturday better than most games.

"It was more quieter," he said.

Coach John Wroblewski had to call his son offsides twice during a game in which he served as a referee, he said. Normally someone would have shouted instructions to avoid that violation, he said.

Bill Proctor was one of several coaches who said Silent Saturday is a good idea because, in addition to teaching cooperation, it provides a forum for the players to demonstrate how good they are at the game without sideline help.

His son, Kevin, 7, said he doesn't like the day.

While coaches generally give good advice, players' suggestions are sometimes bad, Kevin Proctor said.

Silent Saturday was a challenge for enthusiastic fans.

"It is very frustrating for the adults," said Dawn Davis, who was there to cheer on her daughter, Megan, 8.

Normally, she would shout, "Get the ball!" and "Don't back down!" she said. On Saturday she was reduced to applauding and holding a sign that read simply: "Score!"

"I don't like it, either," Sue Sprecher said. "I want to be a sideline coach."

She thinks the players like hearing support from their parents.

"I think it encourages them," she said. "This is boring."

Another critic was Peggy Sprecher, who was there to cheer on her grandson, Eric Sprecher, 8. She described herself this way: "I am a rootin', tootin' grandma."

As a player, Christine Kanter, 11, said she just ignores the noises from the sidelines. But as a spectator, she said, "It is more exciting when we can cheer."

While some parents might not like it, the day is a good idea, coach Doug Reed said.

"I think it is fantastic," Reed said.

Instructions from the sidelines "tends to confuse more than it helps," he said.

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